Black Swan Folk Club
Mid November 2005
- SING OUT WITH PEGLEG FERRET. We have a feast of vocal delights at the Black Swan this coming Thursday, when North East acapella trio Pegleg Ferret make a rare excursion “down south”. Keith Pollard, Geoff Anderson and Benny Graham (well known for his collaborations with Bob Fox) specialise in three-part harmony singing and lean towards material which is either traditional or written in the folk idiom. The band’s pedigree goes back to the late 60s, when the lads were teenagers drawn into the flourishing Durham/Tyneside folk scene of those days.
Pegleg Ferret toured extensively for over twenty years before parting company to pursue individual careers. But it seems you can’t keep good singers apart for ever, and the group reformed in 2001. In 2004 they did a well received marquee set at the City of York Folk Day, followed later last year by the release of their comeback CD Not Fooling Anyone on Harbourtown Records. The track listing gives a good taste of their rich repertoire: old folk ballads, industrial songs from the North East, music hall numbers and sea shanties, modern day folk songs and the odd surprise (in this case an Al Stewart number!). It’s a £6/£5 Pay-On-The door night this Thursday, 17th. Why not take up Jez Lowe’s recommendation and come along?
- SATURDAY NIGHT WITH EMILY. Our next concert promotion at the National Centre for Early Music takes place on Saturday (19th) and sees the return to York of young Scots singer Emily Smith, following her sensational gig in our club room in August 2004. Since then Emily has issued her second CD A Different Life (widely praised and tipped for those ‘Best Album of 2005’ lists) and has been busily touring in Britain and overseas with her tight little band of Jamie McClennan on fiddle and Steve Byrne (also of Malinky) on guitar, bouzouki and cittern. Emily has a superb voice, plays a neat keyboard and accordion and has a warm stage manner. She specialises in folk songs from her homeland of south west Scotland, alongside self-penned numbers, instrumental sets and traditional lyrics set to her own music.
Emily Smith’s recent CD was produced by Joe Rusby (Kate’s younger brother and regular sound engineer) and Joe will be on hand on Saturday to mastermind our concert PA. Acting as MC and doing a half-hour support spot will be popular club regular, Geoff Watson, that very talented singer/guitarist from Hebden Bridge. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30 start and tickets are still available at £12 (£10 concessions) from the NCEM Box Office on 01904 658338, firstname.lastname@example.org.
- TWO MAN CANADIAN FOLK FESTIVAL. Multi-instrumentalists Mark Haines & Tom Leighton hail from the Maritimes of eastern Canada and have such a lively, varied and entertaining act that they have been dubbed a “two man folk festival”. They come to us highly recommended and make their Black Swan debut a week on Thursday, 24th November. We’ve had first rate guests from Canada over recent years (Tanglefoot, James Keelaghan, David Francey et al) and here are two more.
- JOHN WRIGHT & VIN GARBUTT TICKETS. Tickets are selling steadily for John Wright’s appearance on 15th December: over the bar at the Black Swan or from me at club meetings or by phone / post. Also, I am already receiving enquiries about Vin Garbutt’s gig on 26th January. Tickets for Vin will go on sale on 1st December and look like selling in record time – so don’t say you weren’t warned!
- UPTURN IN CLUB FORTUNES. Since my report two months ago in E-News 37, I’m happy to report a considerable upturn in the Black Swan’s fortunes. As many of you will know, we’ve had full house club gigs with Christine Collister, Johnny Dickinson and Jez Lowe, plus well-supported concerts by Tanglefoot and Niamh Parsons. The musical standard has been uniformly high, and only one event in those two months failed at least to break even. Hence we have recouped much of the summer’s losses and look forward to 2006 with greater confidence.
- FOLK CLUBS MAKE THE STAGE. In view of our own summer doldrums, plus the closures at Driffield and Harrogate, it was interesting to read (courtesy of Tony Morris) a recent feature in The Stage, the house newspaper of the theatre world. On 6th October their reporter examined the nationwide shrinkage in the folk club circuit and interviewed Simon Nicol of Fairport, Martin Carthy and Ralph McTell on the subject, the latter saying “I still go to them … I actually prefer being in the audience because they are evenings of unpretentious, non career-orientated music … I think that given good organisers, there’s a future for the clubs.” A later issue published a response from Tony which, amongst other things, called for Arts Council aid for folk promoters and praised Michael Brothwell’s Radio York show.
- HARROGATE LIVES. Talking of Harrogate, there is some good news to report. The existing Friday The Thirteenth folk club will definitely be closing at Christmas, but some of their regulars are planning to keep the folk flag flying with a monthly singers club at the same venue, The Empress on Church Square. They plan to meet on the first Friday of each month, starting on January 6th. For the latest, contact Edna on 01423 883404. Good luck to them!
- AND YORK UNI FLOURISHES. We had an absolute cracker of a Singers Night on 3rd November, thanks in good part to a visit by members of the University of York Folk Society. Founded by a handful of enthusiasts last winter (see E-News 27), this has picked up a lot of new recruits amongst freshers and is going from strength to strength. They meet for songs and tunes every Sunday evening in Vanburgh College (in a seminar room at present, which they know is far from ideal) and they also try to visit a local town session or club, such as ourselves, once each week. For more information, contact Tom on email@example.com.
- ROUND & ABOUT. Here are a few other upcoming local gigs of special note:
- I see from the listings in The Living Tradition that Appalachian step dancer Ira Bernstein and ace musician Riley Baugus are doing some rural touring dates in local village halls this week. Dates include Brandsby (16th), Staithes (18th) and Riccall (20th) – but I have no further details to hand.
- On Saturday 26th November there is a “contemporary folk night” at the Black Swan with Pillowfish and friends. This new duo combines singer/songwriter/ guitarist Tom Drinkwater and violin/viola player Helen Bell (Ola, Niblik, the Maltings sessions, etc.). It is £3 on the door.
- Also on Saturday 26th, Martin Simpson appears at The Shire Hall in Howden. Tickets are a modest £10 on 01430 431535 (day) or 01430 431488 (evenings).
- On Sunday 27th November there is a major fundraiser for Radio Britfolk at Korks Wine Bar in Otley. It’s a 7.30 start to squeeze in Steve Tilston, Jez Lowe & Jake Walton, Pete Coe and others. Tickets are £8/£5, on 01943 465772.